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Suggestions for Christmas Eve Dinner?

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Looking for ideas, any suggestions/recommendations/favorite traditions of your own?

Dinner for 4, usually like to do seafood (our vegetarian daughter will eat it occasionally). So tired of the old seafood casserole that was too heavy with cream and cheese, and grilled salmon isn't special enough (we eat it often). Would be great if it was something I could make ahead; but not absolutely necessary. Considering the Butternut Squash Lasagna from this site.

Any help to spark my imagination would be much appreciated!

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  1. Sicilians have what is called the Feast of the 7 fishes on Christmas eve. While you don't have to make 7 different fish dishes you can certainly look them up and try one of them: they include bacala pasta, I think lobster ravioli, sole, etc. It's a pretty interesting tradition though it's not something that I celebrate.

    2 Replies
    1. re: digkv

      This seems to be a common tradition among Italians on the East Coast, but far from the lobster ravioli and bacalau pasta of your dreams. From how I hear it told, it's more stuffed clams, fried shrimp, some sort of roasted fish, tons of red sauce and plenty of Italian "musicality" after a grease-heavy dinner.

      1. re: JungMann

        actually- it shouldn't be greasy or have any red sauce...traditionally we always have:

        lightly fried smelts
        stewed calamari
        baccala salad
        boiled shrimp or shrimp cocktail
        linguine with white clam sauce
        flounder broiled under san marzanos, olive oil, fresh oregano and bread crumbs
        fresh clams or oysters on the 1/2shell or clams oreganato

        this has been our family tradition for as long as I can remember- seven fishes jersey shore style

    2. This recipe was inspired by Gourmet Magazine. I have served this at many dinner parties to rave reviews.,....either alone or paired with prime rib It is absolutely incredible! I've also subs lobster chunks for either the scallops or the crabmeat.

      Dan's Baked Stuffed Shrimp

      For stuffing:
      1 cup chopped mushrooms (about 1/4 lb.)
      3 tabl. minced onion
      2 tabl. minced celery ribs
      1 tabl. minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
      3 tabl. finely chopped fresh parlsley leaves
      3 tabl. unsalted butter
      1/2 pound scallops, chopped or lump crabmeat picked over
      1/2 cup chicken broth
      32 Ritz Crackers (about 2/3 of a 12 ounce package) crushed into coarse crumbs

      18 jumbo shrimp (about 2 pounds), shelled, leaving tail and connecting shell segment intact
      2 tabl. unsalted butter
      1/4 tsp. paprika

      Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large baking dish.

      Make Stuffing:
      In a large heavy skillet cook mushrooms, onion, celery, garlic, and parsley in butter over moderate heat stirring occasionally, until softened and the liquid that the mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add scallops or crabmet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, 3 minutes. Stir in broth and cracker crumbs and remove skillet from heat.

      Butterfly shrimp by cutting lengthwise along inside curve, almost completely through. Split open shrimp and devein. Mound 2 tabl. stuffing onto each shrimp, presssing gently, and put shrimp, stuffed sides up in baking dish. Melt butter and drizzle over shrimp. Sprinkle shrimp with paprika and bake 20 minutes, or until stuffing is golden. Garnish shrimp with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

      Serves 6

      1 Reply
      1. re: mcel215

        I make those shrimp and they are wonderful. I also think cioppino would be nice as well.

      2. this isn't exactly what you asked for, but you COULD taylor it to your own needs.

        My favorite family christmas eve tradition that started when I was young enough to still leave notes for Santa - and 20 years later continues whenever we have a chance to do christmas together: Mom would lay some old tablecloths on/around the living room coffee table, I'd get to open ONE present early - it was always a game - and we'd make a fire in the fireplace, make fondue, play christmas music and play the game.

        Could easily feed the vegetarian daughter (as I was/am) and seafood enjoyment at any level of technicality ... really just fun family bonding time and a lot different from formal dinners other families do.

        1. We usually do a very traditional Thanksgiving with me doing most of the heavy cooking (and friends adding side dishes). Then Christmas eve, my husband makes an Italian dish of some sort. This year he's making braciole. Christmas day we try to have some exotic or special cut of meat or method of preparation that I've never made before. New Year's eve my husband makes another Italian dish, this year he'll be making stromboli from scratch. :)

          We've also added a solstice celebration that we have with friends, and those are theme dinners. Last year the theme was medieval recipes. Everyone researched special holiday recipes from medieval times and we had a huge feast. It was wonderful. :) Another year we chose Dutch recipes. :)

          1. Filipinos borrowed their Christmas Eve (as well as most of their holiday) traditions from the Spanish. Because we eat after Midnight Mass (usu. around 2am), the meal tends to be smaller: ham, edam, salad, edam cheese, and most importantly, dark, rich, thick homemade hot chocolate. Other families will include chicken relleno (or lechon if it's a big family), a hearty stew (such as mechado or callos), pancit noodles, eggrolls and plenty more desserts such as flan or tocino del cielo. But as far as I'm concerned, it cannot be Noche Buena without a thick cup of hot chocolate.

            1. My family usually does the fish thing for Christmas Eve, although it's more like a full seafood buffet than just 7 fishes. How about a nice easy linguine with clam sauce. It's light not too fussy and vegetarian friendly. Save the calories for a nice decadent dessert. :)

              1. MMm .... so many wonderful ideas -- thank you all so much! Have definately marked that stuffed shrimp recipe -- it's on the 'must try' list! Thank you all! It's so interesting to hear about everyone's traditions for the holidays.

                1. The Christmas Eve tradition around here is to get drunk at my parents' house, eat a lot of snacks (cheese, herring, kippers, crackers, salami, etc) and spend the night. So, our tradition won't help you.

                  But I wonder, what about a seafood chowder?

                  Or sushi. Sushi would be a lot of fun to put together as a family, and if your daughter isn't in to it, she can make vegetarian rolls.

                  1. we do crablegs and champagne for New Year's Eve, but I'm sure it would work for Christmas Eve too.

                    1. We always do Mexican on Christmas Eve. Tamales, green chili, and hot chocolate are staples, other items rotate in and out.

                      1. Christmas Eve is usually a little luxurious for us -- my favorite recipe is this crab stew from food and wine a few years ago, served with champagne and a salad:
                        http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ze...

                        1. We do seafood. I start with boiled/peeled shrimp with a couple of sauces (dips) during cocktails. At the table, we start with mini fresh crab louies followed by Boston clam chowder and sour dough cheese toast.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Gail

                            Our original seafood feast with my Mom's extended/large family was almost identical to Chef4hire's above.

                            For our now (much) smaller gathering, we've modified it so we do mostly shellfish - shrimp cocktail, shrimp kebabs, lobster tails. We throw in a couple of different seafood dishes each year. I miss those wonderful smelts though!